December 13, 2023 — California’s agricultural sector needs sustainable water management., not simple policies calling for farmers and ranchers to be resilient in the face of unaddressed challenges. Jamie Johansson, President of the California Farm Bureau, raised this concern at their 105th Annual Meeting in Reno. The Bureau’s December 4 news release reports that Johansson urged lawmakers to take action to ensure the future of farming in California by providing reliable water supplies and rethinking current policies.
Johansson pointed out the recent struggles of California’s farmers. They’ve faced a tough three-year drought, which forced them to leave over 1.2 million acres of farmland unused. In 2023, they also dealt with severe floods and storms that caused massive damage to their lands and crops.
A major issue Johansson highlighted was the delay in building water storage projects in California. These projects, meant to save water for dry periods and control floods during heavy rains, haven’t been completed, which Johansson sees as a big problem.
He also expressed disappointment with how political leaders have handled these issues. Johansson feels that they blame climate change too much and don’t offer real support to farmers. He believes that decisions should be based on scientific facts, not just politics, to help protect farming for future generations.
There have been some positive developments. Johansson praised Governor Gavin Newsom for making it easier for farmers to collect and use floodwater to replenish underground water sources. This decision came after many years of the Farm Bureau asking for it.
Another good development for farmers is the acceleration of the Sites Reservoir project, a planned water storage system near Sacramento. This project, supported by the Farm Bureau for a long time, is now getting the attention it needs from the government.
The California Farm Bureau, representing nearly 29,000 members in the state and part of a national group with over 5 million members, continues to work hard to support family farms and ranches. Their advocacy aims to make sure these farms can survive and thrive despite the challenges they face.